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Marvel’s ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ Goes Woke: Black Superhero Denied Bank Loan

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Marvel Studios

With the debut of WandaVison and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Disney is getting back in the swing of its Marvel Superhero stories, but at least for the latter show’s Falcon and Bucky, the story is bringing in moments of woke politics.

According to Malcolm Spellman, head writer for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (FAWS) debuting on Disney+, the show dove into its political themes quite pointedly even from the first episode. In an interview with Variety, he breaks down how the series touches on contemporary politics, from Black Lives Matter to the coronavirus pandemic.

An early scene, for instance, shows the Falcon, aka Sam Wilson (played by Anthony Mackie) visiting a bank, and a banker asks about his income with suspicion and ultimately turns him down for a loan.

“That was a really, really fun moment, where what was supposed to be a scene that mostly dealt with the issues of, you know, a black family from a certain background dealing with a bank loan, and the fact that him being a celebrity does not transcend him being black,” Spellman says.

The writer told Variety that their drive to make the writer’s room “all-black” was a key to success. It was “pointed” that the episode ends with Falcon finding out that the government lied to him about becoming Captain America’s replacement because he isn’t white.

I think this is going to be an extremely relevant show in a lot of ways, and that is not by accident. The magic of embracing diversity in the writers room and having an almost all-Black staff allows you to tap into pop culture. I mean, Black folk are the masters of it, and when we get a shot, to do what we do, it is universal for everyone because our struggle and our point of view is a concentrated version of the greater human struggle. So it is yeah, those moments you’re talking about are pointed, and we dig deeper and deeper and deeper as the series progresses.

The betrayal of the government was a particularly important point for the writers.

“That was the primary reason I showed up, which was for Sam, the idea of a black man confronting the stars and stripes is whether it’s even appropriate to carry that shield,” Spellman said.

After telling Variety how “exciting” it was for the writers to show actors Don Cheadle and Anthony Mackie portraying black superheroes talking like normal people. “Just the concept of two black superheroes being on screen together said a million things,” he gushed.

If you’d seen how much dialogue we wrote, because I was so excited to get them together. They were just riffing. Like, it was a moment for them. I was psyched about it. A lot of that got distilled. But I think this bigger issue that’s going on, they don’t have to say that much. Everybody knows these are two Black men, and they’re dealing with the stars and stripes. They don’t even have to say that much for you to get how much it’s weighing on them, and how much these dudes probably cooked up and talked behind the scenes in the MCU.

Spellman concluded by noting that after their production was shut down due to the coronavirus, they went back into the story to “rework and retrofit” the story to include more coronavirus-inspired themes.

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